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Oceanside police Cruiser
An Oceanside Police Cruiser. Photo by Chris Stone

Three suspects allegedly interrupted in the act of stealing a vehicle’s catalytic converter in Oceanside Monday were apprehended a short time later near police headquarters.

The suspects were allegedly in the middle of a theft about 7 a.m. in the 200 block of El Camino Real, when they were caught in the act by a bystander who managed to smash the windshield of the suspects’ vehicle as it fled the scene, according to Oceanside Police Department Public Information Officer Jennifer Atenza.

Descriptions of the suspects were sent over police radios, and “within minutes, police observed two subjects walking west on Mission Avenue, and they were detained,” Atenza said, noting officers later detained a third suspect a short time later in the 3800 block of Mission Avenue based on surveillance footage.

“A search of the suspects’ vehicle was conducted and nine catalytic converters were found in the trunk, along with cutting tools and a hydraulic jack consistent with the tools utilized in the theft of catalytic converters,” Atenza said.

The suspects were identified as 29-year-old Jonathan Garcia, 28-year-old John Gonzalez and 32-year-old Jonathan Valledares Pineda, all residents of San Bernardino.

“They were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime with a $150,000 bail,” according to Atenza.

Conditions were set on the suspects’ bail intended to prevent funds acquired by felonious criminal activity from being utilized to post bail, she said.

The Oceanside Police Department was actively investigating in coordination with other agencies to identify additional victims. Those who believe they may be victims or have information regarding this incident were urged to contact Detective Chris James at 760-435-4286 or [email protected]

City News Service contributed to this article.

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Ellen Bullock